Education

Ways to Connect

Whenever you surf the web, sophisticated algorithms are tracking where you go, comparing you with millions of other people. They're trying to predict what you'll do next: Apply for a credit card? Book a family vacation?

Alice Callaghan has spent decades working with mostly Mexican and Guatemalan families out of a tiny office near Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles. It doubles as a school for a few dozen 4- and 5-year-olds.

After the Pledge of Allegiance, children scamper to their seats to work on phonics exercises, blended words, vocabulary and reciting classroom rules. Not a word in Spanish is spoken, heard or written on the posters and word puzzles hanging on the walls, and many of the children's names have been anglicized.

There aren't many things the two major presidential candidates agree on, but here's one: Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump say they would spend more to rebuild the country's aging infrastructure.

On Thursday, Hillary Clinton packaged a major new school policy proposal as an attack on her rival, Donald Trump.

"Donald Trump has made no apologies to the growing list of people that he has attempted to bully since the launch of his hate-filled campaign," read the press release from the Clinton campaign about a new $500 million initiative called "Better than Bullying."

The National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, is called The Nation's Report Card for good reason; the tests are administered the same way year after year, using the same kind of test booklets, to students across the country.

Nearly two decades after California banned bilingual education, voters next month will have a chance to restore it. Proposition 58 would officially end the era of English-only teaching and re-introduce instruction in English and a second language as an option.

About 1.4 million English Language Learners, or ELLs, make up roughly 23 percent of California's public school students. Most are Spanish-speakers.

In a working-class city in southeast Michigan there's a barbershop where kids get a $2 discount for reading a book aloud to their barber.

William Bowen, a scholar and former president of Princeton University, died last week. He is associated with one of the key explanations for just why a college degree keeps getting more and more and more expensive.

Bowen, who was President of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and before that, led Princeton from 1972 to 1988, died Oct. 20 at the age of 83.

For Ross Roberts, it was a lack of resources that drove him from the classroom. For Danielle Painton, it was too much emphasis on testing. For Sergio Gonzalez, it was a nasty political environment.

Welcome to the U.S. teaching force, where the "I'm outta here" rate is an estimated 8 percent a year — twice that of high-performing countries like Finland or Singapore. And that 8 percent is a lot higher than other professions.

In a small room in Philadelphia's school administration building, Rosario Maribel Mendoza Lemus, 16, sits in a corner, rubbing sweaty palms on her jeans.

In front of her is a binder with a test she has to take before she's assigned to a new school. A counselor hovers over her shoulder, pointing to a drawing of a book.

She asks, in English: "Do you know what that is?"

The Great Recession technically ended in June of 2009, but many of America's schools are still feeling the pinch.

A new study of state budget documents and Census Bureau data finds that the lion's share of spending on schools in at least 23 states will be lower this school year than it was when the recession began nearly a decade ago.

This analysis looked specifically at what's called general formula funding, which accounts for roughly 70 percent of the money states spend in their K-12 schools.

Striking professors reached a tentative three-year contract Friday with the state of Pennsylvania. Faculty members had gone on strike Wednesday at 14 public colleges and universities across the state, according to Katie Meyers of NPR member station WITF.

When Rosley Espinoza's daughter was very young, in preschool, she started acting differently. She seemed distracted and would get in trouble at school.

"Lack of interest, teachers' notes coming home with behavior notes," Espinoza says, speaking in Spanish.

She says she asked school officials to evaluate her daughter, Citlali, for special education, but they didn't.

Cameron Smith was a fifth-grader with straight A's when her school, Fickett Elementary, was caught up in a national cheating scandal.

The story started in 2001, when scores on statewide tests across Atlanta began improving greatly. The superintendent, Beverly Hall, was hailed as a highly effective reformer, winning National Superintendent of the Year in 2009.

Faculty members at more than a dozen Pennsylvania public universities went on strike on Wednesday. The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties represents educators at 14 public universities. The strike comes after negotiations broke down between the union and Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education.

It has been a crazy few days for Ryan Griffin, the guy behind the Read-to-a-Barber program we wrote about on the NPR Ed blog last week. He says the phone at The Fuller Cut in Ypsilanti, Mich., has been ringing nonstop since the story ran.

Rain beats against the windows of a downtown New York City building on a soporific Friday morning. A high school teacher is reading out loud from a sample recommendation letter when she notices a few students fidgeting and texting.

"I'm not seeing all eyes ..." she says, her voice trailing off.

Naama Wrightman, who is coaching the teacher, jumps in.

"All right, pause. It's the right correction. How can you frame it positively? ... Take out the 'not.' "

"All eyes on me?"

"Exactly, give that quick scan again."

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

President Obama had a number on his mind today, and it has nothing to do with politics or the election. Here he is this morning at a high school in the nation's capital.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

Parents' views of child care are a little like life in Lake Wobegon — the vast majority say it's way above average.

That's just one of the findings in a poll looking at child care and health from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, released Monday.

In it, we found that a remarkable 88 percent rated their child care as "very good" or "excellent."

The high school graduation rate in the U.S. reached an all-time high of 83 percent in the 2014-2015 school year, President Obama announced today, marking the fifth straight record-setting year.

Achievement gaps have narrowed even as all boats have risen. Graduation rates range from 90 percent for students who identify as Asian/Pacific Islanders to 64 percent for students with disabilities.

Parents and teachers are worried.

They believe that today's kids are growing up in an unkind world and that learning to be kind is even more important than getting good grades. But, when it comes to defining "kind," parents and teachers don't always agree.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

At $68,000 per year, George Washington University in Washington D.C. is one of the most expensive schools in the country, and yet some students — most of whom receive financial aid — still don't have enough to eat every week.

Should schools of education be held accountable for producing teachers who can raise their students' achievement?

This week the U.S. Education Department said, emphatically, yes. The new guidelines for teacher-prep programs are arguably the strictest federal accountability rules in all of higher ed.

They have teeth: Low-performing programs will be in danger of losing access to federal TEACH grants, which pay for teachers to enter fields of high need in high-poverty schools.

The major for-profit university chain DeVry has agreed to stop making its often-repeated claim: that since 1975, 90 percent of its graduates seeking employment found jobs in their field within six months of graduation.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

One staple in just about every sexual assault prevention program is the video vignette. It's usually a play-acted scenario used to teach students what crosses the line.

Now, the videotape of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump bragging about groping and kissing women is quickly becoming the classic real-life case study.

Chun Zheng has lived through a house fire, a flood and an earthquake. None of that, she says, compares to sending her infant daughter and son abroad to live with her extended family.

"It's the worst hardship I've ever had to bear," says the 42-year-old hotel housekeeper, speaking in Mandarin.

Jozef Jason came to the Fuller Cut barbershop for one reason: the kid's mohawk. It's almost second-grade picture day, and he wants to look good. He hops up onto an antique swivel chair and asks his barber for the new 'do.

"It's high on the top and short on the bottom, and lines that go in a diagonal line where the top is gonna be," explains the 7-year-old.

5 Stories To Read For International Day Of The Girl

Oct 11, 2016

Today is International Day of the Girl. Don't know what that is? That's alright; it's pretty new. The day was created by the United Nations five years ago to spread awareness and spark discussion about the unique challenges confronting the world's 1.1 billion girls.

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